Living and Giving

Ask Pamela: Holiday Fundraising

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\”Ask Pamela\” is a collection of real life conversations between Pamela Hawley, an established social entrepreneur, and Mike Del Ponte, an up-and-coming social entrepreneur. Pamela was a co-founder of VolunteerMatch and is the founder and CEO of UniversalGiving. Mike Del Ponte is founder and CEO of Sparkseed.

With the holidays and the end of the year approaching, I want to make sure I\’m putting my best foot forward with fundraising. Can you tell me what you are doing at this time of year to fundraise for Universal Giving? What are your top tips for a young fundraiser? <3:15 pm November 1, 2009>

Dear Mike, since we\’re in the world of philanthropy, we often get a lot of pressure at the end of the year.  It\’s when most fundraising seems to take place, so we double, and triple our efforts to make sure that we don\’t miss out.

However, the same principles apply. It\’s all about creating long-term relationships. We don\’t want to fundraise from a sense of urgency. We want to fundraise, as most we can, from building a long-term relationship. You might make an ask this year that does not come to fruition this December, but does realize itself over the long-term. So just make sure that any ask you make is in line with your values, makes you feel comfortable, and makes the donor feel comfortable.

With that basis in mind, I would send customized letters to significant donors, and follow up with a personal phone call or personalized email.  When you outreach to them personally, they will already be inspired by the great work you are doing at Sparkseed.  At that time they are more likely to fund you; at minimum, they will most likely congratulate you on your work and you should accept that as a positive step forward in building your long-term relationship with them.